174 Comments
Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

“Huge sums of money have been spent in an effort to will into existence a mass social movement to tackle climate change, and it basically hasn’t worked.”

My instinct is that it’s actually worse than this. A message that doesn’t work simply disappears without a trace. But I think that “raising awareness” of climate change has been pretty effective: a lot of people agree that there’s a huge problem and that we should probably do something dramatic about it.

The problem is that there’s no particular agreement on _what_ should be done and frankly the better technocratic solutions in no way flow as an obvious narrative from a basic statement of the problem: bluntly no one tends to think that a real crisis gets solved by a complicated tax regime.

What I think has happened instead is a huge own goal for the left: a gift of energy and motivation to a sort of lay Malthusian instinct that found instant common cause with anti-immigrant know-nothings and what I with tongue only slightly in cheek like to call “left-bourgeois pastoralism” — bluntly if you tell people that a disaster is incoming but all of your plans to head it off sound like egghead nonsense, they’ll decide that the sensible thing to do is pull up the drawbridges, fill the moats and ride out the storm. You could see this pretty clearly in Berkeley, where for years the appointed head of city planning argued vehemently that building any new housing was in contravention to the UN’s climate goals. (Yes really.)

So yes, I’m basically with Matt on the virtue of quietness here: an environmental movement that had focused on the obvious and terrible human health effects of most things that cause carbon emissions would probably be in a much better shape today with far fewer unwanted side effects.

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There's an own goal, but I'm not sure that's quite right.

I think what happened is that left-wing nonprofits started engaging in certain tactics to show they were Doing Something, and thus prove their value to funders. Note that this can be done in complete good faith -- any group will want to show that they're providing value for their money.

This meant optimizing a certain media (both social and traditional) strategy to get the right kind of attention. And that tended to favor both criticizing existing Democrats ("environmental groups complain about Republicans" is a Dog Bites Man story), and presenting themselves as a mass movement. Journalists (who I'm quite supportive of!), knowing the Climate Change is a huge issue and appreciative of the moral authority of activists, ended up feeding into this tendency, which started persuading liberals.

A big problem is that while there's often fact checking done, it's done on the scientific claims, not the "we're a mass movement" or technocratic claims. Pushback from conservatives also tends to focus on this part, rather than the "is this approach actually working part" or "is anyone listening part".

It's often quite hard to figure out exactly where the breakdown lies and what the flaws are!

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Well said, I completely agree, though I would say "Luddite" fits better than "Malthusian" the anti-science "bourgeois pastoralism" you describe.

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Ideally, it would involve pushing them to develop in a more renewables-and-storage energy portfolio.

But they will do that of their own will when that is more cost-effective than oil and gas.

So that's what we should be focused on - improving, developing, and producing solar, wind, and storage power until it becomes better than oil and gas.

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Recalls the 'Ascetic Virtues' technology from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.

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I randomly thought about it this morning when my kids were complaining about how they were so bored and there was nothing to do over the summer.

Despite the fact that we have all major gaming consoles, numerous PCs, everyone and their own tablet, and they get to do various summer camps most weeks.

I need to install some ascetic virtues into them. Or at least simulate the relative poverty that I grew up with!

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I'm attempting to head that off at the pass by negle... I mean "cultivating her ability to entertain herself" young.

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I originally typed 'beat some aestheticism into them', but then I remembered that this is mostly a liberal forum and so some people may get worked up and assume I meant it literally. =)

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Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

I think asceticism isn't quite the urge I'm trying to point at: if you decide that there is an environmental/ecological catastrophe incoming and that the proper response is to sell all of your possessions and live in a yurt, well, I personally think you're doing nothing useful to head off that catastrophe, but I also don't think you're making it measurably worse and I'm not gonna spend my time trying to convince you that yurts are bad. Enjoy your yurt!

But there is a definite strain of american lay political thought that has confused "clean, quiet and well-manicured" with sustainable and carbon-efficient. I think there's a nontrivial number of people who think that spreading an even layer of single-family houses with 1-acre yards across the planet would be the solution to our environmental problems rathat than an instantly fatal exacerbation of them. The fact that we have basically outlawed infill development on "environmental" grounds in _existing cities_ is madness and yet there's your local Sierra club, willfully making things worse.

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Eco-primitivism, then?

I don't think that group overlaps with the 'suburban lawns are natural and help the environment, durr!' folks.

I'm pretty environmentalist (though otherwise mostly conservative), but I despise most activist environmental groups.

They mostly seem like they are just driven by an emotional and aesthetic preference for no-humans, and therefore don't behave rationally in many important instances, and are thus counterproductive when it comes to, you know...protecting the environment.

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Ascetic policy of any kind always looks good and romantic until anyone gets real about actually implementing it.

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Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

You can't really enforce asceticism without pretty heavy-handed govt.

The most benign form is heavy consumption tax...but even that isn't really very benign.

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Religions and other forms of brainwashing do a pretty good job of it.

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Yup. I'd consider that 'internal' and not from govt. =)

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Matt shouldn't call himself an asshole for (often) favoring the quiet strategy, or claim he's not a total asshole because sometimes he doesn't. If anything I would expect the loud strategy to attract a higher percentage of awful people than the quiet one, independently of which one is more likely to be effective.

Don't let the screamers choose the framing!

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One of the great political paradoxes of our time is that the most abrasive assholes in politics have convinced their respective factions that they are standard-bearers of Morality, Goodness, and Righteousness

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I'll do you one worse: On the left, it's not the abrasive assholes, it's the terminally depressed or otherwise in desperate need of counseling and professional help who have convinced everyone of their righteousness.

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Yes!

And then there's the mirror image of that phenomenon. Some voters find the standard-bearers so annoying that they've embraced the idea that Morality, Goodness and RIghteousness are terrible, and that we should elect a president who stands for the opposite of all those things just to show the righteous people how much we hate them. The two trends feed on each other.

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I would say that if you're going to take a somewhat contrarian position like this, it really is important to be careful with your tone and phrasing to minimize the prospect that you sound like someone who is operating in bad faith or concern trolling.

Substack Matt is usually very good about this, but Twitter Matt can struggle with it sometimes.

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When all is said and done, we aren’t going to solve climate change, are we? I hate using the expression ’virtue signalling’ because idiots misuse the expression, but people only tend to be in favour of climate change policies in as far as it lets them feel like they are fixing something without the hard job of implementation. The feeling is ‘I voted Dem (or Green) and did my bit to solve climate change, wen cheap fuel?’ In the same way, oil companies (or capitalism in general) are blamed for climate change without realising we actually like oil for filling up our stupidly overpowered cars.

Finally, where is the policy coherence from the Democrats? They were REALLY ANGRY with oil companies for producing too much oil as little as a few months ago, but now being REALLY ANGRY with oil companies for not producing or refining enough oil now.

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We may solve climate change. The question is how much pain we will endure on the way to solving it, or whether we will leave it to our grandchildren to solve it after a lot of pain is to be endured. Even now, there is a pretty clear technological path to solving climate change. The problem is social and economic short-term pricing and preferences, which will change over the long run due to increased climate pressures.

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Even there, with relatively half-assed policy support, we've gone from climate change literally ending the world under the business-as-usual projections in 2000 to climate change disrupting developing nations in the tropics under the business-as-usual projections in 2020, basically entirely on the backs of the technologies that public seed money helped bring to fruition.

Their market-driven roll-out all but ensures the question our grandkids face is not "how to we save ourselves from our grandparents' stupid decisions?" but "how much of the damage our grandparents did do we want to pay to undo?"

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CO2 capture and sequestration can "solve" climate change, because it reduces the greenhouse effect. We know that the atmospheric CO2 concentration in the mid 1800s (which most people set as the baseline before human-caused greenhouse effects began) was below 300 ppm. CO2 concentration is currently a little above 400 ppm, so it will take decades, but we can eventually get it under 300 ppm again, at which point climage change can be declared "solved."

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The beauty of CO2C&S is that it puts a cap on all the other costly substitutions. The question is how high is that cap?

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That depends on how quickly we develop CO2 capture technology and how much we deploy it at scale.

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Enjoy the vacation! I like the selected reposting strategy for some of the days.

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Matt is sharing some scenic photos on Twitter right now, and I'm reminded of a Simpsons joke at this moment:

Hank Scorpio: By the way Homer, what's your least favorite country, Italy or France?

Homer: Pfffft, France.

Hank Scorpio: Hehe, nobody ever says Italy.

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There is truly a Simpsons joke or meme for every situation!

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The other issue with climate change is the fear that the burdens fall disproportionately on lower income people. Look at California as a perfect example. Abroad, this is what triggered the "yellow vest" movement in France. Tied to that is the issue that hundreds of thousands of Americans work in fossil fuel related ndustries; like it or not, these jobs are often very well paying. I doubt retrofitting buildings with solar panels woukd be as lucrative. In short, climate change advocates have not yet made a sufficiently persuasive case that these workers have an economically promising future. And if these same workers raise their concerns, they are often dismissed as "deplorables", hardly a way to generate broad-based support for measures loudly advocated by billionaires like Mike Bloomberg or Tom Steyer (who incidentally made a fortune investing in those very fossil fuel industries that he now disparages).

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*Makes mental note to be wary if Tom Steyer ever organizes a "World Grand Prix" to promote an alternative fuel.*

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https://www.theverge.com/2019/12/19/21030422/tom-steyer-fossil-fuels-2020-democratic-debate-candidate-billionaire

Mind you, I'm all in favour of Damascene conversions. Al Gore was in the same boat. But Steyer has never really addressed this. Reminds me of the line from the former UK Cabinet Minister, Tony Crosland, a Labour Party Minister who said of environmentalists that they "had a manifest class bias, and reflects a set of middle and upper class value judgements. Its champions are often kindly and dedicated people. But they are affluent and fundamentally, though of course not consciously, they want to kick the ladder down behind them. They are highly selective in their concern, being militant mainly about threats to rural peace and wildlife and well loved beauty spots: they are little concerned with the far more desperate problem of the urban environment in which 80 per cent of our fellow citizens live"

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Of course, failing to address climate change also results in a burden that also falls disproportionately on lower income people.

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Well, it hurts everybody. Not sure it disproportionately impacts lower income people. But the manner in which it is being addressed indisputably DOES impact lower income people more. To cite one example: California’s decarbonization policies include a requirement for 100% zero-carbon electricity and an economy-wide goal of carbon neutrality by 2045. But the pursuit of those goals has come with a big price tag—and one not borne equally by rich and poor. Since 2008, according to the EIA, the all-sector cost of electricity in the Golden State has grown five times faster than rates in the rest of the continental U.S. Those increases hurt lower income Californians much more than the rich, who can afford to cover their massive roofs with solar panels. Look at what Robert Apodaca, a longtime Latino activist and the executive director of United Latinos Vote, had to say about this: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b3d7e368f5130df89800d7f/t/5f7503b9a3a36f457379cb33/1601504188963/Sierra+Club.pdf

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Oh it unambiguously will disproportionately impact the poor. On one hand, the places which are least resilient to climate disruption (low lying island nations, hot and humid equatorial places) are among the poorest on earth. For geographic reasons, Canada will be much less hurt by climate change than will Bangladesh. Some of it is in the conventional way that a lot of environmental justice problems work which is that the poor are unable to relocate away from environmental harms. If you open up a toxic waste factory, the rich people move away from the problem while the poor are stuck with it. It is true that everywhere will be impacted from climate change, but those impacts won't be equivalent, and the rich can move away from unlivable hellscapes while the poor are stuck. Finally, climate resilience costs money. The rich can afford air conditioning, they can afford to retrofit their homes. The marginal cost of adaptation is just more impactful on the budgets of the poor, both in the global sense as well as local low income people.

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This is basically a question of what you do with the revenue from the tax on net CO2 emissions. There are lots of claimants: reduction in the wage tax, straight per capita rebate, subsidizing mitigation/adjustment (subsidizing retrofitting of oil heat to heat pumps, etc.).

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Italy is the best! Enjoy !!

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It's posts like these that really make me question my commitment to the principle that "life is not a morality play". Because even though that seems an accurate reading of reality, it sure would be instrumentally useful to (rarely! with great caution! to be ceased once concrete goals are met!) relax that suspension of disbelief sometimes. Problems are easier to tackle in Story Mode, with clear Heroes and Villains, where one can Pick A Side. Even technocratic Democrat eggheads often wrap their data with narrative, or have it wrapped for them.

And I'm not even a climate hawk, just a conservative who worries about humanity's ability to stand astride temperature gains and yell "stop!" at *any* point. A difficult thing tried and found wanting, or found difficult and never tried...

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Guided by the concept of the net tax on CO2 emissions, anyone to does something cost effective is a Hero and their opponents are Villains. The dramatis personae just change from issue to issue.

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You can pry my gas stove from my cold, nice, upscale liberal hands.

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Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

This is related to one area that I believe climate policy people have not put a lot of thought into: electricity outages. If we electrify everything, it is not like we are going to magically make storms that knock down electric lines go away. But by getting rid of liquid/gas fuels entirely, we will have made electricity outages much worse than they already are. You can at least light a gas stove with a match. No matter how cool induction stoves are, they don't work without electricity. And this goes beyond stoves. If we are going to get rid of gas stoves, aren't we also going to get rid of gasoline or propane generators? Gas hot water heaters? These things work without electricity.

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Keep a camping stove and bottle of propane in your basement for emergencies:)

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In the world where we are building hundreds of GWh of grid-scale battery storage, it would be pretty affordable to have some battery storage in your own house. In a world where we electrified transportation, most US households would already have that battery storage in the form of their car.

If you were just trying to cook / run some space heaters, a Tesla Model 3 car battery at half charge (random guess of its charge state at time of blackout) would have...25 kWh of electricity (for the lowest tier, if my quick Google is right). That's enough to run a 1kW space heater for a day and still have enough juice left over for some microwaving. Not a ton, but definitely not nothing.

IF we had a scaleable, real, cost-effective carbon removal solution, it would almost certainly be preferable to keep natural gas lines running since we already have the infrastructure and it does add resilience. But that's a big IF. (I'm hoping Project Vesta has a breakthrough here)

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Maybe not the ones you're talking with, but I assure you that increasing grid resiliency is a topic of concern among climate and energy policy researchers I work with (like this https://energystorage.lbl.gov/field-trip/grid-resilience/). Part of electrifying everything is to increase the amount of electricity we deliver dramatically, and that necessarily means making the grid more robust and diversify infrastructure. If climate wonks had our way there would be interregional transmission and way more distributed energy resources which would result in greater reliability not less (https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-21-423t).

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Everything depends on the relative price of gas and electricity and the costs of alternative means of reducing the costs of electrical outages. Homes could have batteries, distribution companies can bury the lines or Carbon capture ad sequestration could make continued use of gas cost effective. That is exactly the advantage of taxation of net CO2 emissions. We don't have to solve this kind of problem in advance.

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Unfortunately, when you have elite consensus that we should tackle climate change but a super-majority of people are opposing to spending even $100 a year on it, what you get is a bunch of decisions made in hidden channels that result much less $ efficient carbon reduction than a carbon tax.

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I wonder how much the elites who agree that we Should tackle climate change would be willing to pay?

Of course the amount paid in tax is not a good measure of the cost of the tax. As with any excise tax we need to look at the deadweight loss, roughly, how painful would it be to pay $2000 a year more for fuel and electricity and get a check for $2000 at the end of the year?

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For this reason I have been tracking the Diablo Canyon debate here in CA. Count me in the pro-nuclear camp.

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Induction is vastly superior, based on my extensive experience cooking on both types of ranges.

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Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

I was kinda joking, kinda not. I love to cook and spent most of my life using those crappy coil electric stoves that come in cheap apartments and have a nice gas range for the first time in my life and love it and will be loathe to give it up in the near future, but I can come around. I have heard this before, what makes them vastly superior? I'm guessing they move heat into the pan faster and with better control? I'll believe it better when I actually cook on one.

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Exactly - faster heat, better control. The kitchen doesn't heat up and it's much better for indoor air quality. When I was using induction, I could actually simmer!

I had an induction range during a temporary pandemic move and I miss it every day - to my extreme chagrin, my old NYC building doesn't have the electrical capacity for me to install induction here. I would literally consider moving to be able to have induction again, especially if in-unit laundry is part of the deal...

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I grew up using a gas stove because that's what's in my house, but when I was in Paris with Felix his studio had an induction range and that thing got really hot really quick. Only downside is that in principle you can't char things over a flame but I don't think I've ever actually done that, so.

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When I have access to induction, I require all visitors to sit through a demo of speed boiling!

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That's a strong endorsement! I'm probably overly attached to the aesthetics of the gas stove. For some reason I am way more willing to switch to an electric car for example.

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There is a bit of a learning curve, but it is seriously amazing. I honestly hate firing up a gas burner now! The only downside IMO is that you can't roast a pepper using an induction burner (but you can do it in the oven or braise red pepper strips on the stovetop).

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I was thinking about tortillas for that reason. I'm often thinking about tortillas tbh.

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I have no personal experience with induction stoves, but I desperately want to switch to one as soon as I have the opportunity, because I think my gas stove is probably really, really bad for me. See e.g. https://dynomight.net/stoves/ .

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legitimately induction stoves are better. They heat up faster, they deliver more heat, they're cool to the touch, and there's much less indoor air pollution. I hate electric ranges but induction stoves are fantastic

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Loud and soft ought to be a matter of tactics. Th point is what to be loud about. I want Progressives to understand that a carbon tax is the least disruptive thing we can do to actually slow and then reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. If that's not politically possible in July 2022 that's too bad but does not alter realty.

So what IS politically possible. I don't know; I'm just a lowly economist. Some investment in the grid? Go for it. Subsidies for the production of (ideally not investment in) zero carbon energy production? Go for that (making sure the subsidy does not give MORE encouragement than the carbon tax would have). Tell every bureaucrat in every nook of the government when they modify a regulation that the incorporate a cost of net CO2 emitted into the careful cost benefit analyses they conduct before modifying any regulation. [Does unleashing geothermal drillers really require an act of congress?]

BTW this incorporation of the cost of CO2 emissions works both ways. It does not require infinite hostility to the production and transport of fossil fuels. My guess is that it would hardly affect the decision at all in most cases like offshore leasing and the XL pipeline.

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Well, the key thing is to speed up the adoption of new technologies that reduce ghg (greehouse gas) emissions. That means electric cars, wind/solar/nuclear/hydropower/geothermal power, retrofitting homes and businesses, etc. One way to do that is to produce more abundant power and make it cheaper, thus driving the transition.

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That is the way it happens, I agree. But making every emission of CO2 more expensive drives all those developments

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Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

There seems to be a decent (liberal) consensus that a Carbon Tax is a good idea, but just not politically feasible.

Since you mentioned Social Security's humble beginnings, I'd like some policy wonk (cough cough) that knows more than I do to come up with some clever way of getting a teeny-tiny carbon tax on the books, and then expanded it over time.

Go ahead and effectively bribe the populace by using the proceeds to send out refund checks out at first, though obviously it would be better to direct the money to green infrastructure and R&D...

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I don't think that will work because the benefits would be diffuse. Social Security expanded over time because the elderly became a concentrated interest group voting for it AND there was societal consensus that they """deserved""" some degree of help.

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The initial point would just be to get a carbon tax on the board, with minimal political cost

It would cost political capital to expand it afterwardsm

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Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

"I'd like some policy wonk (cough cough) that knows more than I do to come up with some clever way of getting a teeny-tiny carbon tax on the books, and then expanded it over time."

I was pointing out that the "expanded it over time" part is where the paralllel to Social Security fails. If the only reason you are pushing for a teeny-tiny carbon tax is because you think you'll be able to grow it in the future, that's probably not worth it and the policy effort should be invested somewhere else that has a bettered expected return.

EDIT:

For an example of a carbon-tax that has shrunk rather than expanded overtime because it is very unpopular, see the gas tax.

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Frosts kill more crops than heat. Cold causes more human misery than heat. Cold causes more deaths than heat. Humanity has blossomed as we left the ice age behind.

This is not a law of nature, just the current reality, and heat may soon inflict more pain than cold. However, we are still in a world where a tiny increase in temperatures is a positive good, and there’s probably a meaningful range of temperatures where the net effects of warming are roughly a wash.

Show me global agricultural yields decreasing because of hotter temperatures and I’ll start to worry. Fortunately, agricultural productivity is at an all time high, partly because most plants like warmth.

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founding

Frost killing more crops than heat doesn’t show that long term cold is a bigger threat than long term hot - it just shows that the acute effects of cold are more intense than the acute effects of hot. Presumably farmers have already found the optimal regions for each of the crops they grow, and aren’t planting too many of them in places that are too hot or too cold (but some in places that are a bit hotter or a bit colder than optimal). If the climate changes, and farmers eventually adapt by planting their crops in new places, there will likely be the same balance of crop death due to heat and crop death due to cold, no matter how much the climate has changed.

The actual question is how much new land opens up for which crops, and how much existing land becomes unusable for which crops - not just to see whether the total change is positive, but also to see how much land would need to go through the process of changing its use during the transition.

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Not sure about Russia, but much of the land in Canada that could "open up" to agriculture due to global warming is the Canadian Shield (northern Ontario + Quebec), which has extremely thin soil due to the cold weather + glaciation scraping the soil away + the rocks being very hard for plants to break down (it's one of the oldest surviving parts of the earth's crust). A world that was being fed from Canadian Shield farms would first need terascale soil relocation efforts.

The Great Plains are very fertile and extended north in Sakatchewan / Alberta / parts of Manitoba, not sure exactly where the northern boundaries are and how viable northern Wheat farming would be though.

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Never fear, the anti GMO and pro organic movements will do their bit to bring down agricultural yields.

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You might be right that, all things considered, humans would be better off if the average global of Earth was a few degrees higher. But that's not really the problem.

The problem is a lack of climate stability. If we knew that human-caused climate change from releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere would stall out and plateau at a new global temperature a few degrees higher what it is today, we could continue burning carbon as usual and just focus on adaptation planning for that new normal.

But the problem is there is no new normal or stable climate in sight as long as we're feeding more carbon into the atmosphere. It's just instability and chaos as far into the future as we can seem. That's the problem.

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Your framing is excellent. I 100% agree that there are huge tail risks, that an 8 degree increase or even a 5 degrees increase in temperatures would suck, and that we should not plan to continue burning hydrocarbons until we have extracted every barrel that we can.

Your framing suggests that climate change isn’t hugely urgent today but might become urgent in a decade or three. We need to invest in developing clean energy technologies ASAP and begin deploying them at scale. We do not need to accept wrenching change and quasi pastoralism to meet some stupid 1.5 degree target.

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I think the main issue is timing. An average global temperature of a few degrees higher would be fine if we approached it over the course of 10000 or maybe even 1000 years. 100 is just too fast for either nature or humans to react in a non-disruptive way.

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We can locally create heat. We cannot create cold (although we can move heat from here to there).

This is a fundamental asymmetry that should give one pause.

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I get that air conditioners release hot air into the atmosphere but the volume of space cooled is trivial relative to the volume of the atmosphere. Creating cool spaces, potentially with renewable power, is only slightly more difficult than creating warm ones.

My single biggest objection to climate alarmism is Id rather have summer highs average 92 and be able to afford air conditioning than have them average 87 and not be able to afford air conditioning.

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One would think that, as a conservative, one would be concerned more with the upheaval involved in relocating food production from where it's currently optimal to where it will eventually be optimal.

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founding

That, I think, is the central point. If there’s a tradeoff between climate and economic development, the optimal tradeoff is not to completely optimize one of the two regardless of the costs to the other.

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absolutely agree, but we can’t optimize anything until we have a rigorous idea of how bad or good each unit of temperature increase is. at a minimum, that entails weighing the harms inflicted by cold weather. if my only contribution to this conversation is to increase awareness of the costs of cold- costs that get no attention in most analyses if this topic— i’ve done good work.

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founding

I think some of your comments on this topic a few months back did in fact help raise my consciousness of this issue. But I still thing the biggest source of costs is that there is a *change* in the climate, and that the direction of that change doesn't matter as much (mainly because so many resources have already been poured into shaping each city for the past climate of its location, and regardless of whether the future climate is overall better or worse, new resources will need to be expended to deal with its downsides, whatever they are, and some current climate mitigation efforts will need to be removed).

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If you have a general aversion to change, wouldn’t you also be averse to the economic changes needed to preempt or slow climate change?

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Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

"Show me global agricultural yields decreasing because of hotter temperatures and I’ll start to worry. Fortunately, agricultural productivity is at an all time high, partly because most plants like warmth."

Literally happened a few months ago, all signs point to continued happening, particularly in the (American) West where the drought seems likely to basically be perpetual and which also is where we grow huge number of crops:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2022/05/india-pakistan-heatwave-wheat-economic-costs/629753/

https://thediplomat.com/2022/04/heat-wave-scorches-indias-wheat-crop-singes-its-export-plans/

"But it was the heat in March — the hottest in India since records first started being kept in 1901 — that stunted crops. Wheat is very sensitive to heat, especially during the final stage when its kernels mature and ripen. Indian farmers time their planting so that this stage coincides with India’s usually cooler spring."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-61669233

'Farmers are already feeling the pain. About 75% of the water from Lake Mead goes to agriculture.

Over a third of America's vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts are grown in California. But tens of thousands of acres lie idle because farmers can't get enough water to grow crops'

****

Also, pests, insects, parasites and diseases really like heat, and generally dislike hard frosts. It seems unlikely that it's a coincidence that Industrial development skews overwhelmingly temperate, and heat (especially hot nights) has significant negative effects on human productivity. (See, e.g. https://epic.uchicago.edu/research/the-impact-of-temperature-on-productivity-and-labor-supply-evidence-from-indian-manufacturing/ (" In a national panel of Indian factories, annual plant output falls by about 2% per degree Celsius"), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/heat-exposure-is-already-impacting-productivity-in-india/articleshow/90448405.cms) Also, it's a lot easier to put on that take off layers. Cold is just an easier problem for individuals to modulate at a much lower level of technological investment than warmth is. We've had blankets and clothing since we've had anatomically modern humans, and they're a lot more portable (and generally significantly more environmentally friendly) than air conditioning.

Also: I personally derive more utility from the marginal charismatic megafauna or exotic and cool-looking animal than I do the marginal human, and the former are adapted to the climate we had, not the climate as its changing.

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It is possible to find places in any year that have suffered drought or flood or anything that has reduced local yields. But you will also find places that have a bumper harvest. Is it really the case that agricultural productivity is now on a continual decline? And why is California simultaneously a barren wasteland and an agricultural powerhouse?

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California is currently ok but farming there is heavily reliant on Sierra snowpack which will continue to decline... that said a lot of water could be saved by transitioning away from growing alfalfa and other low value but water intensive crops, especially in the Imperial Valley.

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In other words, pricing water appropriately. That would be a huge win even without ACC.

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Your point is automatically incorporated into the calculation of the the level (trajectory of levels, actually) of the tax on net CO2 emission. If you were right, the level is still zero.

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how can the tax level be determined “automatically?”. tax levels are political decisions. picking an “optimal” tax level requires weighing benefits and burdens. the optimal tax level is never objectively clear

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I meant that the effect of heat on crops is not a separate problem but that those costs (or benefits if there are benefits) are incorporated into the trajectory of what the tax on net CO2 emissions is

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Assuming you trust the wonks doing the calculation to both be competent and not influenced by political decisions.

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Well, the "wonks" have well-vetted climate models under continuous assault from rich right-wingers and they have held up well. We know the climate deniers are political.

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Given the hyperbolic nonsense and constant screeching from the climate activists, and given how much influence they seem to have on the climate scientists, I think a healthy dose of skepticism of the models is warranted.

I'm still in favor of a carbon tax and a shift (as much as is feasible) to renewable energy, but I (and I think, most people) have a least a decent degree of skepticism w.r.t. the likely effects.

Furthermore, even if the climate models are correct, you have to make the jump to human/economic cost estimates before you can figure out what the carbon tax should be. And that is even more opaque to most people, and subject to randos with an agenda.

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I disagree with you there. I think most people actually largely believe the climate models and the economic costs associated with them. They just don't want to pay the (perceived) costs now and don't want to change. So they profess to not believe in the climate models or possess "doubts" about them because it conflicts with their goals. It's not clear to me that there are real "costs" to the climate transition that aren't minor and transitory, but people have a very strong status quo bias. I also find it curious that you seem to have a deep animus toward climate activists, but possess none toward the oil industry, which consistently lied to the public about their view of climate change and took almost no action on pollution until forced to by public action and governments.

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The IPCC's economic models say the impact of global warming on global GDP in 2100 under business-as-usual estimates would be 5% (total, center of estimates).

This means that a lot of the proposals to tackle climate change are net-negative in economic terms (according to the IPCC), but there are still being pushed due to a combination of

->people valuing planetary biodiversity over and above the century-long $ value of it

->people wanting insurance against downside risk if the models tilt towards the bad side of the bell curve

->people not knowing what the IPCC's economic models say

->economic illiteracy

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There are multiple steps:

1) believe the climate models

2) believe the economic damage estimates downstream from the climate models

3) believe that the carbon tax/cap-and-trade system adequately covers the economic damage

I'd (wildly, blatantly) guess that ~50-60% of people trust the climate models, 30-40% trust the economic damage estimates, and then 15-25% would trust a hypothetical carbon tax.

But I agree with you that pretty much everyone is using motivated reasoning here, and looking at it's impact on them to determine whether or not they want to 'believe' the above.

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But you need to solve the optimal trajectory o f the tax rate on net emissions of CO2 problem to guide the "quiet" strategies, as well.

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You do recall the good old days when George H.W. Bush tried to get started on climate change and the oil interests spent gobs and gobs of money to make sure the GOP would never again take the problem seriously, correct?

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Perhaps now, seeing how "getting started" has morphed into restricting production and transportation of fossil fuels, they may come to see taxing demand for fossil fuels (a tax on net CO2 emissions) as the lesser of evils.

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I do not. I would have been fairly young.

I'm not arguing that the oil companies are bad actors in this regard.

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Lol, as usual.

Show me any scientific work that backs up your talking points, and I’ll start worrying less.

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Even a relatively mild place like Portugal has 28% more deaths in the winter than in the summer. https://jech.bmj.com/content/57/10/784

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People are choosing to move to warm climates even when their destinations are uniquely vulnerable to rising sea levels:

Population increase in Wisconsin since 1970: 33%.

Population increase in Florida since 1970: 317%.

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You may well be correct in your assertion but that is an embarrassing example of cherry picking.

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People engaged in a ruinous four year war that was almost entirely unproductive and caused widespread death and destruction to all combatants. I'm speaking of WW1. Let's see how Miami is doing in 30 years.

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It may need to be evacuated, but it really is uniquely vulnerable because it is built on pourous limestone and coastal defenses would require massive pumps to work. Evacuating Miami is an easier ask than decarbonizing.

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Is Miami in worse shape than New Orleans? It's been below sea level for decades. Mitigation or gradual evacuation is the tradeoff.

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Evacuating Miami alone would be roughly as expensive as decarbonizing the entire electrical grid and all ground transportation in the US. The value of public and private infrastructure in the metropolitan area is something on the order of a trillion bucks. To say nothing of, ya know, the other major metropolitan regions strung up and down the coast.

Nice try.

I'm not even going to respond to the other random, heavily-confounded, cherry-picked "data", it's not worth my time.

You're completely irrational on the topic and even though I'm pretty certain you're aware of that now, it would damage your ego to change your mind.

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The argument from authority is pretty clearly on David Abbott's side here, actually. There are reasons to be concerned about global warming but "it just makes cents to invest in green energy" isn't one of them anymore.

The IPCC's economic models say the impact of global warming on global GDP in 2100 would be a loss of 1-8% (level, not rate), with an outlier possibility of 10-23% IF we saw 4 degrees Celsius of global warming, when the center of business as usual estimates are currently more like ~2.7 and trending down. See pg. 2831 of the PDF of the full report (https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/).

This means that a lot of the proposals to tackle climate change are net-negative in economic terms (according to the IPCC), but there are still being pushed due to a combination of

->people valuing planetary biodiversity over and above the century-long $ value of it

->people wanting insurance against downside risk if the models tilt towards the bad side of the bell curve

->people not knowing what the IPCC's economic models say

->economic illiteracy

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mind your manners. also, what’s your basis for saying miami could be evacuated as cheaply as decarbonizing the grid and switching to EVs? more importantly, why would decarbonizing the grid and switching to evs in one country do much to stop a global phenomenon?

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Human population at the end of the last ice age: roughly 5 million. Human population today, 7.9 billion. Just a wee 158,000% increase. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population#/media/File%3AWorld-population-1750-2015-and-un-projection-until-2100.png

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founding

See population by latitude (a proxy for warmth): https://www.visualcapitalist.com/cp/mapped-the-worlds-population-density-by-latitude/

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Really the southern hemisphere should be excluded because it has so much water.

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I had long been in the category of considering AGW to likely not be as serious as its hawks project, but what finally nudged me a bit further away from that is the possibility of the heat index getting so high in monsoon climates (of which a lot of people in the world live in) that it won't be possible for humans to habitate in those climes during the wet season.

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Of course it is not as bad as the alarmist project, but how ever bad it is merits a cost effective response. The degree of the response is what is in play.

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Congrats on becoming an S Corp.

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I should probably add on that one thing that helps that Risch-Fulcher bill happen is that Idaho had long been one of only two states (Vermont the other) that had no coal power plants within its borders. I *think* Oregon has finally joined them by shutting down Boardman, and hopefully Washington will be right behind them soon to make the Northwest trifecta if they can shut down Centralia.

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"Idaho had long been one of only two states (Vermont the other) that had no coal power plants within its borders."

https://www.gem.wiki/Amalgamated_Sugar_Twin_Falls_Power_Plant

Granted, that's pretty small potatoes (small sugar beets?), but it is there. That's the only one I see on the U.S. Energy Information Administration map.

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In a typically NPR-like story about climate change and alternative energy that I heard yesterday, the reporter casually stated, "nuclear power may be carbon-free but it does, of course, have a different form of environmental pollution to worry about- nuclear waste." It did prompt me to realize that in all the pro-nuclear green energy convos, I only hear about Chernobyl/Fukushima-type events, and don't ever hear about nuclear waste. Have we "solved" what to do about nuclear waste yet? I honestly don't know much about it!

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I don't work in the nuclear industry so I don't have any special insider knowledge about nuclear waste management, but my understanding is that we've mostly solved the technical side of things but are having trouble getting permission to build permanent storage for NIMBY reasons.

Yucca Mountain in Nevada was the US designated site for storage but Nevadans really really don't want it there and successfully blocked the project.

Finland is building a permanent storage facility: https://www.science.org/content/article/finland-built-tomb-store-nuclear-waste-can-it-survive-100000-years

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Yes, we solved it but Harry Reid wouldn't let us actually do it. :)

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Harry Reid heroically blocked the nuclear repository from being set up in Nevada to avoid triggering an intergalactic incident with the aliens camped out in Area 51 /s

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One of my favorite statements in this regard:

The problem with nuclear power is when everything goes wrong.

The problem with coal power is when everything goes right.

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Invisible externalities of coal unless you're an epidemiologist.

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Jul 11, 2022·edited Jul 11, 2022

My environmental policy has long been the same as my housing policy: build build build build. Construct all the non-fossil fuel energy you can, it's the only plausible way I see getting out of this mess, and if it succeeds, much of the "loud" stuff can just naturally go away. One of the most thrilling categories of Matt's articles here is strong concurrence with that policy goal.

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So, your plan is to say it quietly and then repost it at intervals.

I hope it works!

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